How To Help Kids With Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety can have a long term effect on children’s health, check out its symptoms and tips to manage it.  

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: May 31, 2022Updated at: May 31, 2022
How To Help Kids With Separation Anxiety?

Separation is never easy, whether it is adults or children. However, for children, it is particularly difficult because they are more sensitive and need attention of their parents of loved ones around them. Separation anxiety is a term that makes children extremely sad and it could affect their mental health. Even though separation anxiety is a normal part of growing up, however, can be painful for both the kids and parents. Separation creates a feeling of worry and can make kids upset about it. It's important to make kids feel safe and secure for a smooth separation from parents

What is separation anxiety in Kids? 

We spoke to Dr. Himani Narula, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, Director & Co-founder of Continua kids. Separation anxiety is observed in children from nine months to three years of age. Young babies and toddlers can become anxious when their parents leave or get out of sight as they are still learning that this separation is temporary. Separation anxiety could hit hard for the kids and you need to know about symptoms in order to manage children going through this. It can even happen when a closed person leaves them for a few days or period of time. 

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Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Children 

Some of the commonly observed symptoms and signs that a child may have during separation anxiety would be as follows: 

  • They may become more clingy when you leave them.  
  • They may refuse to sleep without you.  
  • Excessive and frequent episodes of crying in new situations,  
  • Too much worry about getting lost from family, 
  • Fearful and reluctant to be alone,  
  • Frequent episodes of stomach aches, headaches and other physical complaints, 
  • Too much worry about the safety of the self.  
  • Too much worry about when sleeping away from home, 
  • Panic or temper tantrum at the time of separation from parents.  

If a child has symptoms of separation anxiety lasting for more than four weeks, then it can be diagnosed as a problem called separation anxiety disorder. The worries and the fears of being apart from home and family are disproportionate to their age level.  

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Causes of Separation anxiety disorder?  

Separation anxieties can be caused by biological, and or environmental factors. A child may inherit the tendency to be anxious from his or her parent. A traumatic event may also trigger separation anxiety disorder.  

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How to manage children with Separation Anxiety? 

It's essential to treat children very gently and compassionately during these phases. Parents need not feel guilty when they leave their children for short durations. It's vital to support your child and help them in managing their feelings without you. This helps them to become more independent.  

To help kids become more resilient you may start the practice of short separations and gradually work towards longer ones. If your child has a favorite toy, leave that beside the child to help ease the separation. Gradually introduce a new caregiver like a babysitter.  

These transitions can be made smooth by having the babysitter attend to your child in front of the parent which can be followed by leaving the child for short durations with the caregiver alone. While making goodbyes, always assure your child that you'll see them soon again and do not prolong the leaving time. Maintain routines and schedules.  

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They help your little ones to get used to their schedules. However, in situations where the symptoms persist for longer than four weeks, the child may need medical management and cognitive behavior therapy. They may involve schoolteachers by reminding them about extra reassurance and support in certain situations. Provide family therapy and school support to help the child cope with the separation anxiety. 

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